If God ever fails to do something good, be sure it is for one of two reasons.
One, He is working on something better.
Or two, His arm is being restrained by my failure to intercede.
Let me never be guilty of the latter.
It’s a corner of the neighborhood that I don’t spend much time in.
Some folk endure worst case scenario whether or not it is an accurate reflection of reality. (It usually isn’t.)
You know, “what if…?”
Well, I’m going to step out of character momentarily, and ask you to dwell on a what if for a moment. Really go there.
What if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow?
I know, I know. But enter in with me. I have a reason.
You keep looking at your watch, your computer, every clock in the house, for they surely must be wrong. But hours tick by and the stars don’t move. The moon doesn’t seem to move either. Truth be told, the earth has stopped spinning.
Oh, and panic strikes. And crime spikes. And governments crack down to try to control fear so deep it abolishes reason. But their fears run deep too, and they can’t help themselves, much less their citizens. Power plants churn out the megawatts at max capacity, to fuel a world which is accustomed to sleeping at night. And people sit huddled in their houses, trying to get cable. But every satellite in the heavens kept spinning when we stopped. So there’s no telecom. Every flight in the air, and every ship in the sea wanders till there’s no fuel to wander farther. Because there’s no GPS either.
After a week, those who have survived fear’s urges to self-destruction start counting the days until the sun will rise. –In six months, when we get around to the other side of the sun.
Oh, but we’ll never get there. It’s already so cold. So cold. The middle of this night is becoming like a wind-swept antarctic. Every green leaf is withering, and with it a planet’s life-giving supply of oxygen. We’ll run out of air, and then freeze white through, before the sun shines again.
What if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow?
Those in eternal noon fare little better. Over there it’s oh, so hot. They can breathe this steamy atmosphere, but they are broiling alive. And the steamy part will only last so long…
I take it for granted that the sun will rise tomorrow. And I don’t have the foggiest idea of all that would ensue if it didn’t. I live in full confidence of the fact.
The sun will rise. That’s what matters.
And something else will happen too, something even more certain.
In the morning when you rise, God will be awake, waiting for you to stir.
He always is.
But let me ask you another question.
What if He wasn’t there tomorrow?
I’m not even going to go there. That apocalypse would make my above description seem like yogurt for breakfast. Utterly routine.
He’s always there. That’s what matters.
But wait, really?
Is that really all that matters?
We rise and run into our day, shoot something that is supposed to be gratitude His way, while taking Him utterly for granted.
Perhaps partly because we’ve never stopped to consider what would be, if He disappeared.
If some morning He failed to knock on your heart’s door when you woke up, would you even miss Him?
Or did you skip Him this morning anyway, so it wouldn’t make a difference?
And what did you say would happen if the sun didn’t rise…?
He’s there. He’s promised always to be.
Always reaching His beautiful hand towards a stirring creation.
So, one more question:
Meander is a good word.
I’ve gone to answer a silent call unmistakable. Over two fences and down a sandy draw.
Wherever my gaze wanders, my feet follow. From rock to creek to giant anthill and back.
These are the best hours of the day, and they belong to God…
But you know, it is most often in the very cradle of these moments, –these hours that slip away into eternity leaving behind them a quiet deep and peace so sweet– it is in these selfsame that I experience the worst agitations, and the deepest discontent.
Because on the heels of every happiness comes the agony that is the reality of another’s pain.
Someone said love and pain go together. How right they were.
Every time I taste the sweeter sweet, I suddenly start up, all taken by this wild desire to distribute.
And that wouldn’t be so bad, if every starving soul would actually take it!!
Maybe that’s why I pace. From creek to anthill and back.
From joy to yearning and back.
The very best you can do to bring the beautiful hungry to realize the fullness of joy that is in Christ,
is to be constantly realizing that joy yourself.
You seek. They’ll find.
I shuffle. As if through stacks of mental paperwork on the desk of my mind, searching for the keys. Keys apparently hidden somewhere in the fine print ten thousand words long?
No, not there. The key is here.
Here in plain sight. Written in plain english.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The road, the destination, and the journey on that road, to that destination.
There you have it.
The key lies in Jesus being everything.
“We fill our lives with what we love most.”
In order to learn to love God, God must live in the heart. We come to love best what we hold closest. (No, it’s true. We’re duped into holding close what is actually entirely unlovely, and so come to love our worst enemy best of all.) The reciprocal is also true.
For what it’s worth… I’m sticking with them.
Minnows flee the froth while they tumble out of the boats and splash ashore, this exuberant rabble.
They’ve been looking for the miracle worker that baked 25,000 barley loaves (not including what wife and kids ate) without an oven yesterday, and they’ve just found Him.
He doesn’t answer their first question at all, rather gently reminds them what alone is really worth pursuing.
“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”(John 6:27 KJV)
Whether or not they actually understand what He’s saying, they are plainly intrigued. So they ask another question. The answer to which has me positively intrigued…
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe…”(John 6:28-29 KJV emphasis added)
Belief changes everything.
Because if Christ really came, then God is really good, and self-love is really a lie, and sin is really a destroyer, and who wants to die anyway?
I have some news for you.
Christ came. (Matchless condescension.)
And He comes again, every time a dark heart opens its door. (Again, matchless condescension.)
What more proof do we need of His benevolence?
And if He is benevolent, then where’s the controversy?
Believing is everything.
We only ever hesitate to serve a God whose character we question.
I wonder if you, like me, have ever stood in the doorway of the tabernacle* and felt like you were totally out of place there…
I stand at my front door and watch Africa stir, listen to the jungle morning. But my thoughts are far away. I cry and He answers. And though we better our acquaintance daily, most days He still catches me off guard. And some days when I’m only half done with my rant he silences me with one word, burned in silence across the wall of my soul.
“… And say I not well that I am ‘a Samaritan’?
Say I not well that Thou deservest more and better?–“
“Say I not well that there is only one of you in the world, and in My heart you’re irreplaceable?”
There is one thing that binds me to the cross. One thing that is to be thanked for any progress, any strength, any accomplishment.
And that one thing is not my commitment, my abandonment, my faith, my hope, my experience, my choice, my will, my power, or my surrender.
It is the mercy of Christ.
The love that doesn’t want “more and better” as a substitute for broken me.
(For it is true that a day of hardship imparts more strength to the soul than a month of sunshine.)
But after today, I’ve had a change of mind as concerns just how men (and women) should pursue the treasure imparted by tears. Once, that is, faith has made them steel enough to do so.
Pray not for pain or hardship.
The world is plenty full of both.
Pray you’ll have the heart to suffer with another’s.
When their hardship becomes my pain, then God can heal the both of us.
You know the story isn’t over.
It could be. I mean, wouldn’t it be enough if He swooped in as the Hero of every rescue mission, and picked up broken pieces again, and took them home to heal?
That’s already more than we deserve.
He is the Hero of every rescue mission. And there’s a reason His exploits come first…
But keep reading till the end of the tale.
He saves the afflicted, simultaneously putting the adversary in his place.
He lights a candle. A little flame of light atop a stick of wax strung out.
Fresh home from the smoke and dust of battle, He shares His life.
He puts in the soul a fire, out of Himself, a part of Himself, and with that fire comes all the power that is His. Power to live. Power to overcome. The same power that just sent hills and hoodlums scurrying.
And watch the servant. Watch the flame suddenly catch on, as if he was all oil inside. Watch him fly into the darkness, like an arrow himself. Burning as he goes, consumed, but . . . not consumed.
Watch him run right through the midst of the garrison of darkness, setting the place ablaze. Watch his enemies come to their senses, pick themselves up to follow hard in the trail of smoke. Watch him get to the end– the dead end. And just when the pursuers think they’ll have vengeance at last, watch him leap. Watch him sail over what should have been his death sentence. While his enemies remain, confined by their own fortifications.
Watch him stop on the far side, catch his breath, raise one hand to heaven and say:
“As for God, His way is perfect:
the word of the Lord is tried:
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
For who is God, save the Lord?. . .
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet. . .
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. . .
Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou has enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them:. . .
I have wounded them that they were not able to rise:
they are fallen under my feet.
For Thou has girded me with strength unto the battle. . .”
How can it logically be said that even with unlimited access to unlimited power, we must accept the prospect of limited progress, and perpetual setbacks?
I don’t get that.
What I do get, is that when I am His, then I am strong.
And under no other circumstances.